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On large sporting sites like cabelas.com, when a customer searches for fishing waders, they’ll find that most products cost between $49 and $199.

Occasionally they’ll find waders over $200.

But on the high end of price range, they’ll find $500 fishing waders, the majority of which are made and sold by a Montana company called Simms Fishing:  

By the way, these $499 waders are not even Simms’ top of line. The brand’s site features multiple products priced at $799.

In a market full of $49 – $99 products, how have they managed to successfully sell products 200% – 400% more expensive?

We recently spoke with Thomas Murray, Digital Merchandising Manager at Simms, to explore this question.

In this article, we detail how Simms has built a site and brand with products that many fishing enthusiasts argue are the best in the market—allowing the brand to command some of the highest prices.

We’ll learn:

  • The marketing campaign that launched their high-end branding campaign
  • How they think through their site design and aesthetic
  • How they view investing in product copywriting
  • How they use video on their site

And finally, we discuss how they balanced moving “upmarket” in price while also making sure they have products that appeal to a wide range of incomes and customers.

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Digitally Selling High-End Products

Anchoring Simms’ brand value — and its ability to command such high prices — is the story of how its products are designed and who designs them.  

How do you tell this story in a way that resonates with your customers? Simms started with a year-long video campaign called the “Wader Makers.”

Screenshots from a “Wader Makers” Campaign Video

The campaign was comprised of a series of black and white videos that poignantly tell the story of the Simms employees who design and produce their waders.

According to Thomas Murray, Digital Merchandising Manager at Simms, the campaign served as “a window into the manufacturing folks who were actually making the product, the craftsmanship involved, and the mix of high-touch and high-tech skills that are required to make a product that—frankly—justifies an $800 price tag.

Headquartered in Bozeman, Montana, Simms is the only company manufacturing waders in the U.S.

Their products are designed by engineers that leave work and head to the river.

As repair technician Chris Golz explains in one of the campaign videos, “Trying to push the progression of materials and technology to make things better for anglers on the water—you can’t do that without a company that has people that wear waders all the time.”

Simms shared the campaign on its social media channels and featured it at industry trade shows. As of this article, the primary campaign video has over 36,000 views on YouTube.

It was also picked up by industry press. Field and Stream shared the video on its website writing, “Even if you don’t own a pair of Simms waders, you have to appreciate their team, which is clearly not made up of a bunch of clock-punchers. They’re the real deal.”

The great success of the campaign changed the way Simms saw its online presence.

Applying the Brand Story Across an eCommerce Site

After the campaign, Simms turned its focus to the website. How could the brand get the same high end “real deal” message conveyed there?

“I think we’ve done a good job of telling that story and pushing it out through an omnichannel strategy,” Thomas explained. “The challenge for an eCommerce website is: ‘How is that story told deep in the site on a single product that somebody might find through organic search—without the context of the flashy homepage or detailed About Us page?’”

Here is how they’ve done it:

1) Tightly Controlled Aesthetic

When you visit simmsfishing.com, perhaps the first thing you’ll notice is the consistent aesthetic throughout. It’s created by a tightly controlled color palette and specific post-production filters.

You’ll find a matching aesthetic on each of the product pages, helping to create a cohesive brand look and feel.

2) Product Copy

In addition to design, Simms has invested heavily in product copy.

Product descriptions are written to “balance the customer’s need to find a quick takeaway—not just on the features, but also the benefit of the product,” Thomas explained.

Of course, Simms products contain unique features specifically designed by and for devoted anglers. But these features are not the only selling point that makes the products high-end. There’s also the cutting edge technology and the commitment to high-quality.

Each product page uses exact copy to get all of this across.

The copy balances descriptions of the features, technology, and specifics about the quality of each product.

“You can’t spend enough on writers to do that. It’s not something that a junior writer can just kinda jump in on,” Thomas said.

Like Thomas says, not just anyone can convey the value and quality of Simms’ products. For example, anyone can write about “cheap waders,” but it takes someone in the space to truly describe the difference between ordinary waders and those that Simms makes.

Their waders are the highest quality, use the latest technology, and have one of the best guarantees in the business. Carefully crafted descriptions call out these features—distinguishing Simms from its competitors—and make the case for a higher price tag.

3) Product Videos

Of course, since Simms’ branding efforts started with a video campaign, video is also featured heavily on the site.

Well-produced product videos found on many product pages speak directly to dedicated anglers.

They continue the balance of features, technology, and quality. But, perhaps more importantly, they show Simms employees as niche experts.

Many of the videos mix images of an employee explaining the product with shots of the product in action. The videos are also produced using the site’s tailored aesthetic.

Broadening Their Target Audience

Conveying product and manufacturing has done wonders for their ability to market and sell high priced products—thereby increasing average order value, a welcome result for any company with an eCommerce website.

Simms is also working on growing revenue by broadening their customer base, allowing them to sell a wider variety (and hopefully quantity) of products.

“We’re definitely for passionate anglers of all stripes, so we want to be a little more welcoming, not just in the fly niche but also in conventional tackle. The challenge is how to be a little bit more welcoming to new anglers and people entering the sport and, frankly, just people who can have some sort of resonance with the lifestyle that fishing entails,” Thomas explained.

The tools they are using to achieve this goal match what they use to depict their brand’s premium status: controlled aesthetic and storytelling—just used in slightly different ways.

1. Design: They’re Making the Site Warmer

Before the “Wader Makers” campaign, Simms was a very monochromatic site, which matched the black and white campaign videos. It gave the site a classic, hard-edged feel, which they believed would appeal to hard-core anglers.

Post-campaign, they reintroduced color, helping the site feel warmer and friendlier.

2. Copy: They’re Producing Inclusive Stories

Following the success of the “Wader Makers”, Simms has continued its story-driven approach. But now, instead of just stories on how the waders are produced, the focus is on producing films and campaigns that depict their diverse customers. Simms partnered with pro-snowboarder Eric Jackson on Alignment, a 35-minute film that shows how Jackson uses fly-fishing to recharge.

Screenshots from Eric Jackson’s film Alignment

Of course, the efforts to widen its customer base will be a multi-year, long horizon project. For companies with a major eCommerce presence, that is the constant goal: How to reach and convert more customers, how do we charge more, how do we grow?

But with the success of its premium branding effort, spearheaded by its wildly successful “Wader Makers” campaign, the Simms team feels they have a winning formula: a great balance of storytelling, design, and copy that resonates with their customers.

Our team at Inflow is working with Simms to improve their conversion rate, grow their organic traffic and customer reach, and grow their customer base via paid search campaigns. Together with the passionate and creative Simms Fishing team, only time will tell how far we can cast the line.

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